What credit score do I need to buy a home?

What credit score do I need to buy a home?

For most people looking to buy a new home, once they’ve found the perfect house, they then need to secure a home loan. When you are starting the application process, you could have some anxious moments about how lenders will view your home loan application. Typically lenders look at factors such as age, occupation and income. In addition to those, your credit score plays an important role in evaluating your application.

A credit score is a number used by lenders to assess your creditworthiness. Simply put, it is a way for lenders to assure themselves of your ability to repay the loan comfortably. You need to understand the factors that affect your credit score, and also to know what is a good credit score to buy a home.

What is the credit score required to buy a house in Australia?

Your credit score signifies your ability to repay a loan on time and provides a gauge of any future risk of default, based on your credit history.

Credit score numbers are between 0 and 1,000, and the higher the number, the better your credit score. Each credit measuring body has different parameters to measure and evaluate credit scores. A good score increases your chances of getting approval on your home loan application.

Most Australian lenders don’t make their credit criteria public which makes finding out the exact credit score you need to qualify for a home loan not easy. To complicate matters further, most lenders don’t depend solely on your credit score to measure your risk; they also rely on their own internal credit evaluation yardsticks.

So, what is the minimum credit score to buy a house, you might wonder. While it is difficult to put your finger on the exact cut-off mark to qualify for a home loan, some benchmarks help to determine if your score will make the cut. 

Below 509 (below average) – If your score is below 509, you likely fall into the high-risk category, and conventional lenders may be reluctant to grant you a home loan. There are a few lenders who might still consider your application even with a low score, but the interest rates are usually very high. We’ll discuss ways to get a home loan with a low credit score a little later.

510 to 621 (average) – A credit score in this bracket usually means that you have some negative marks in your file, and lenders might ask for more information before they’ll consider your loan application.

622 to 725 (good) – This is a good place to start from, and a number in this range vastly improves your chances of getting approval on your home loan application. You should also have access to lower interest rates than those with average credit scores.

726 to 832 (very good) – Congratulations, you’re part of the top 40 per cent of creditworthy Australians. Most lenders will be eager to have your business and will gladly offer you a home loan.

833 to 1200 (excellent) – An excellent score is one that lenders consider to be extremely low risk, and lenders will be keen to offer you a loan. Approvals are generally quick, and you will have more options to choose from than those with lower scores.

Can I get a home loan with a low credit score?

The chances of getting approval on your home loan application with a score above 600 are high. But can you still get a home loan if your credit score is below 500? Yes, you’re still eligible for a home loan but only from a specialist or non-conforming lender. These are lenders who offer what is known as bad credit home loans to high-risk borrowers with low credit scores. Bad credit home loans are similar to regular home loans, but with much higher interest rates and less choice home loan options. These limitations are due to the risk associated with lending to people with low credit scores which are perceived as greater for the lender.

Bad credit lenders still have their own internal guidelines regarding which loan application they approve, which often depends on a variety of factors. It may be helpful to use the services of a mortgage broker in such a scenario, as they can suggest which bank is likely to have a home loan product that suits your needs. Applying with a lender directly and getting rejected will negatively impact your credit score further because each application submitted will reflect on your credit file.

What’s the minimum credit score for a home improvement loan?

Not all home loan applications are for the purchase of a home or an investment property. Perhaps you’re looking to finance a home renovation project and wish to borrow money. In this case, applying for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit is one way of getting the money you need to complete your renovation. Once again, your credit score is a key factor considered by lenders at the time of evaluating whether you qualify for a home equity loan.

A score between 660 and 700 is considered acceptable, but some lenders might charge you a higher interest rate. Some may even wish to look at other financial factors, such as your overall debt, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio or the amount of equity you currently hold.

A DTI ratio gives an idea of your total monthly debt payments, and it is calculated based on how much you earn and how much you spend on your recurring debts and liabilities. These include credit cards, existing loans, tax debt, etc. Most lenders look for a low DTI ratio, nothing more than 40 to 43 per cent of your monthly gross income. If you have a low credit score, then a low DTI can work in your favour and give the lender more confidence to offer you the loan.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Georgia Brown before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about home loans

What is a bad credit home loan?

A bad credit home loan is a mortgage for people with a low credit score. Lenders regard bad credit borrowers as riskier than ‘vanilla’ borrowers, so they tend to charge higher interest rates for bad credit home loans.

If you want a bad credit home loan, you’re more likely to get approved by a small non-bank lender than by a big four bank or another mainstream lender.

Can I get a home renovation loan with bad credit?

If you're looking for funds to pay for repairs or renovations to your home, but you have a low credit score, you need to carefully consider your options. If you already have a mortgage, a good starting point is to check whether you can redraw money from that. You could also consider applying for a new home loan. 

Before taking out a new loan, it’s good to note that lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates on home repair loans for bad credit customers. Alternatively, they may be willing to lend you a smaller amount than a standard loan. You may also face some challenges with getting your home renovation loan application approved. If you do run into trouble, you can speak to your lender and ask whether they would be willing to approve your application if you have a guarantor or co-signer. You should also explain the reasons behind your bad credit rating and the steps that you’re taking to improve it. 

Consulting a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help you understand your options and make the right choice.

How can I get a home loan with bad credit?

If you want to get a home loan with bad credit, you need to convince a lender that your problems are behind you and that you will, indeed, be able to repay a mortgage.

One step you might want to take is to visit a mortgage broker who specialises in bad credit home loans (also known as ‘non-conforming home loans’ or ‘sub-prime home loans’). An experienced broker will know which lenders to approach, and how to plead your case with each of them.

Two points to bear in mind are:

  • Many home loan lenders don’t provide bad credit mortgages
  • Each lender has its own policies, and therefore favours different things

If you’d prefer to directly approach the lender yourself, you’re more likely to find success with smaller non-bank lenders that specialise in bad credit home loans (as opposed to bigger banks that prefer ‘vanilla’ mortgages). That’s because these smaller lenders are more likely to treat you as a unique individual rather than judge you according to a one-size-fits-all policy.

Lenders try to minimise their risk, so if you want to get a home loan with bad credit, you need to do everything you can to convince lenders that you’re safer than your credit history might suggest. If possible, provide paperwork that shows:

  • You have a secure job
  • You have a steady income
  • You’ve been reducing your debts
  • You’ve been increasing your savings

How can I qualify for a joint home loan if my partner has bad credit?

As a couple, it's entirely possible that the credit scores of you and your partner could affect your financial future, especially if you apply for a joint home loan. When applying for a joint home loan, if one has bad credit, there may be steps that can help you to qualify even with bad credit, including:

  • Saving for a higher deposit, ideally 20 per cent or more. Keep in mind:  a borrowed amount of less than 80 per cent of the property value also saves the cost of Lender's Mortgage Insurance (LMI).
  • Consistent employment records, regular savings habits, and an economical lifestyle can help prove financial stability and responsibility. These can improve your chances of approval even if there are some negative marks on a credit report.
  • Delaying your decision to buy a property until your partner’s credit score improves. Alternatively, you may want to consider a solo application.

While these tips may assist, if you find this overwhelming, consider consulting an expert advisor who can offer personal guidance based on your financial situation.

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

When does Commonwealth Bank charge an early exit fee?

When you take out a fixed interest home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you’re able to lock the interest for a particular period. If the rates change during this period, your repayments remain unchanged. If you break the loan during the fixed interest period, you’ll have to pay the Commonwealth Bank home loan early exit fee and an administrative fee.

The Early Repayment Adjustment (ERA) and Administrative fees are applicable in the following instances:

  • If you switch your loan from fixed interest to variable rate
  • When you apply for a top-up home loan
  • If you repay over and above the annual threshold limit, which is $10,000 per year during the fixed interest period
  • When you prepay the entire outstanding loan balance before the end of the fixed interest duration.

The fee calculation depends on the interest rates, the amount you’ve repaid and the loan size. You can contact the lender to understand more about what you may have to pay. 

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.

Why do I need to enter my contact details?

We ask for your contact details so we can get in touch with you if you are eligible for a gift card from the Home Loan Rate Promise.

We may also use your information to keep you up to date on future RateCity initiatives and news, if you select this option. You can opt out at any time.

If, after checking how much you could save on a lower home loan rate, you choose to get more help from a home lender or mortgage broker, you can choose to let us pass your contact details directly on to this lender or broker so they can contact you.

How do I get a Suncorp home loan pre-approval?

Getting home loan pre-approval helps you work out a budget to help you search for a suitable property and make an offer with confidence. Once you put in an application, you should get your pre-approval outcome within two business days. To help get a fast turnaround time of your pre-approval application, ensure all the information and documentation that Suncorp requires. This includes proof of identification, recent payslips, bank account and credit card statements.

You can submit the home loan pre-approval application online. You’ll be asked for information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts. It should take you about 10 minutes to fill out the application, and you can do it free of charge. A Suncorp lending specialist will review your application and contact you within 24 hours or the next working day. Suncorp will not run a credit check until you have heard from this lending specialist.

Once you get Suncorp home loan pre-approval, it’s valid for 90 days. If you don’t find a property you wish to buy in this time you may be able to apply for an extension, speak to your Suncorp lending specialist about this.

How do I get a pre-approved home loan with Aussie?

Getting Aussie home loan pre-approval means receiving conditional support from Aussie Home Loans to borrow the money you need to buy a home. 

It’s an indication of the approximate amount Aussie may offer you, subject to some terms and conditions. Keep in mind, having a pre-approved home loan does not guarantee an actual approval of your loan when it comes time to buy.

Aussie home loan pre-approval often involves speaking to one of the lender’s brokers. You can make an appointment online. You’ll often have to submit your personal details and other information about your assets, income, liabilities and expenses.  It’s worth remembering that a pre-approved loan is usually valid for a few months.

Can I get a NAB first home loan?

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme of NAB helps first home buyers purchase a property sooner by reducing the upfront costs required. This scheme is offered based on a Government-backed initiative, with10,000 available places announced in October 2020.

Suppose your application for the NAB first home buyer loan is successful. In that case, you’ll only need to pay a low deposit, between 5 and 20 per cent of the property value and won’t be asked to pay lender's mortgage insurance (LMI). You’ll also receive a limited guarantee from the Australian government to purchase the property.

If you’re applying for the NAB first home buyer home loan as an individual, you need to have earned less than $125,000 in the last financial year. Couples applying for the NAB first home loan need to have earned less than $200,000 to be eligible. To be considered a couple, you need to be married or in a de facto relationship. A parent and child, siblings or friends are not considered a couple when applying for a NAB first home loan.

The NAB First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is currently offered only to purchase a brand new property, rather than an established property.

Where can I get all the information about an ANZ first home buyer’s loan?

As a first home buyer, you may require help and hand-holding, and as such ANZ has the buying your first home section on its website full of important information. ANZ also has a form in this section you can fill out to get a free consultation from an ANZ First Home Coach and create your own plan for buying your first home. This coach will help you understand where your current income is being spent and plan for your home loan repayments. You’ll get a clear picture of the costs involved in purchasing a property and how to budget or save for these costs. The coach will help you understand different deposit options and manage your accounts to enhance your savings.

There are three types of ANZ first home loans - Standard Variable, Fixed, and Equity Manager. The features, interest rates, and terms for each are different, and you can compare them here.

When they apply for an ANZ home loan, first home buyers can also get guidance on applying for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG). This is a one-off government grant that may be available to you when you’re buying your first home. The eligibility criteria for FHOG differs between the different states and territories, which is why it’s helpful to have expert advice when applying.